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Holden/Marolt

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes

After years of planning, carpentry and remodeling, and creation of a site model, work at the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum is almost finished and will open to the public Friday, July 11. Recently HeritageAspen, which operates the museum, held a party to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and craftsmen who created the model of the site as it was in the 1890s.

The model, which measures 9 feet by 9 feet, is a collaboration between Jeffrey Evans Architectural Models, Robin Ferguson’s Modern Cabinet Shop, and the Roaring Fork Valley Model Railroad Club. Masterminding the Holden/Marolt Museum from its beginning stages was Carl Bergman. He says, “You can spend 20 minutes just studying the details of one tiny miner’s cabin, the details are so extraordinary.” Primary funding for the project was provided by the Fred and Elli Iselin Foundation.

The Holden Lixiviation Works was a large industrial complex located on the banks of Castle Creek. Giant crushers split up the silver ore that was mined in Aspen. Chemical and roasting treatments extracted the silver from the ore. But then, just three years after the complex was built, silver was demonetized and the bottom fell out of the silver-mining boom in Aspen. The lixiviation works closed down in 1893.

Then the Marolt family bought the site for a ranch. They ran cattle, grew big vegetable gardens, raised grains and potatoes. Most of the original buildings disappeared over the years and only the main building, which the Marolts used as a barn, remains. The city of Aspen bought the Marolt Ranch in the 1980s and HeritageAspen (formerly the Aspen Historical Society) decided the old barn would make a marvelous mining and ranching museum. In 1989 HeritageAspen secured a lease with the city for the Marolt Barn site and began planning the museum.

Things are really booming at HeritageAspen. On Saturday, May 17, the organization will hold a community yard sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of the Wheeler/Stallard House museum at 620 West Bleeker Street. Some of the treasures already gathered for the sale include office furniture and supplies, antiques, silver pieces, books and clothing. However, nothing from the museum collections will be offered for sale. The sale will be held, rain or shine.

Bridget and Rick Balentine of Balentine Collection International recently celebrated the opening of their new 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art showroom and warehouse. Attending were architects, contractors and interior designers from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

The June 2003 issue of Architectural Digest magazine includes an item about George Lapin and his Curious George shop in Aspen. It’s in the “Designer at Large” section and mentions that George has Western artifacts, from Indian spears to cases of antique revolvers and vintage belt buckles to 1873 cavalry gear.

Aspen is mentioned many times in the recently published book by Queen Noor of Jordan titled “Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an unexpected life.” She visits Aspen often, and in 2000 she gave a talk during the 50th anniversary celebration of The Aspen Institute.

Undercurrent … Don’t think I’ve ever seen such a quiet spring off-season in Aspen.


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